SEFS Grad Students Contribute “Tree Truths” to Art Exhibition

This summer, local artist Cheryl A. Richey is showcasing a selection of her abstract “tree spirit” paintings and charcoal drawings in the UW Tower’s Mezzanine Gallery. Her show, Arbor Intelligence, explores the subtle power and mystery of trees, and the exhibition includes 30 printed “tree truths” that capture a range of scientific facts and interpretations about trees and forests.

One of Cheryl's "tree spirit" paintings, Pyrophyte 2 (acrylic, collage, burned canvas)

One of Cheryl’s “tree spirit” paintings, Pyrophyte 2 (acrylic, collage, burned canvas)

Cheryl drew from several sources to create the “tree truths,” including Tree:  A Life Story, by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady. For 12 of them, though, she partnered with SEFS graduate students—including Sean Callahan, Sean Jeronimo, Caitlin Littlefield , Korena Mafune, Allison Rossman and Jorge Tomasevic—to produce “truths” from their own research and experiences!

Arbor Intelligence opens today, Tuesday, July 5, and will run through the end of September. The UW Tower is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it is accessible to anyone with a Husky card.

We encourage you to stop by and visit the exhibition this summer, and also to take a look through the “tree truths” that will appear with the show (with our graduate students listed in bold below next to the truths they provided!

Tree Truths

1. Trees are the “lungs” of the earth.
2. Trees often have lifelong – ‘best friend’ – relationships with mycorrhizal fungi. Without these fungi, woody plants may never have evolved on land.
3. Forests absorb more than 25 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities.
4. Forests constantly replenish Earth’s supply of fresh water.
5. Forests influence weather patterns.
6. Trees are communal and share sun and water resources via their root systems.
7. Riparian forests are critically important to river ecology, which benefits fish and wildlife. 8. Chlorophyll and hemoglobin are similar in structure with only one atom difference between them: chlorophyll’s one magnesium atom enables plants to capture light, whereas hemoglobin’s one iron atom allows blood to capture oxygen.
9. Trees’ “dynamic spiral” growth pattern is similar to other patterns found in nature, like spiral galaxies and DNA coils.
10. Lodgepole pine cones can wait 50 years for fire to open the cones and release the seeds.
11. Mature Douglas-fir trees can tolerate fire because of their nonflammable, thick bark (up to 12 inches thick).
12. It can take 36 hours for water to move from roots to canopy in a mature Douglas-fir tree.
13. Needles contain little sap, which makes them more resistant to freezing.
14. When invaded by disease, a tree seals off the infected area to control its spread.
15. Because of its smaller surface area, a needle transpires less water than a broadleaf, so conifers do better than deciduous trees in sunny environments with long dry periods.
16. Some evergreens, like the monkey puzzle tree, keep their needles for up to 15 years. 17. Rainforests lift and transpire huge amounts of water every day, creating great rivers of mist that flow across the continent. This water condenses and falls as rain.
18. Bristlecone pine trees regularly keep their needles for 20 to 30 years, and occasionally as long as 45 years. (Sean Jeronimo)
19. Bristlecone pine is the oldest known non-clonal organism in the world. One specimen is older than 4,800 years, and another is older than 5,000! (Sean Jeronimo)
20. The only living tissues of a tree are its foliage, buds and inner bark—which usually make up less than 1 percent of a tree’s biomass. (Sean Jeronimo)
21. The lodgepole pine spans an elevation range from sea level to higher than 10,000 feet, and ranges from swampy wetlands to the near-desert pumice plateau. (Sean Jeronimo) 22. Most trees are monoecious, meaning each individual bears both male and female reproductive organs. However, some tree species, such as Pacific yew, have separate male and female individuals. (Sean Jeronimo)
23. High above the forest floor, organic soils form on branches of Washington’s old-growth rainforests. These ‘canopy soils’ promote habitat for a wide array of unique organisms. It’s a whole new world that has barely been explored. (Korena Mafune)
24. The endangered marbled murrelet spends most of its life at sea, but the bird exclusively nests on mosses growing high in the canopy of coniferous trees near the coastline. (Sean Callahan)
25. About 80 percent of vegetative diversity in a forest lies in the “understory,” including saxifrages, grasses, biscuit roots and roses. These beautiful and unique plants complement the “overstory” structure and composition. (Allison Rossman)
26. Stick your nose into a black crevice between the red-orange bark plates of a big ponderosa pine. Smells like vanilla! (Caitlin Littlefield)
27. In autumn, deciduous trees respond to shorter days and cooler temperatures with colorful foliage caused by the breakdown of green chlorophyll in leaves. But with warmer temperatures and drought conditions lasting longer, some trees are dropping their leaves before they change color. (Caitlin Littlefield)
28. In a forest under attack by a pest or pathogen, you may actually count more trees—lots of young ones—than before the outbreak, because some species make a last-ditch effort to reproduce before death. (Caitlin Littlefield)
29. Dead trees are important for biodiversity. They are a source of food and shelter for insects, fungi, spiders, and many bird species, as well as small mammals, snakes, lizards, and bats. Dead trees are rich with life, and we should celebrate them, too! (Jorge Tomasevic)
30. Pyrophytes are plants, including trees (some species of pine, oak, eucalypts and giant sequoias) that have adapted to tolerate fire. In some species, fire aides them in competing with less fire-resistant plants for space and nutrients.

Painting © Cheryl A. Richey

Wildlife Seminar: Fall 2015 Schedule!

The long-running Wildlife Science Seminar (ESRM 455 & SEFS 554) gets rolling this coming Monday, October 5, and as always the line-up features an incredible range of subjects, from conserving seabirds to coexisting with wolves and cougars in Washington (as well as two speakers yet to be announced). Professor John Marzluff is leading the seminar this fall, and he’ll be kicking off the quarter with the first talk on Monday.

You can catch the action weekly from 3:30 to 4:50 p.m. in Kane Hall 120. The public is welcome, so mark your calendars and come out for some animal intrigue!

Wildlife Science SeminarWeek 1: October 5
“Hot topics in wildlife science”
Professor John Marzluff, Wildlife Science Group, SEFS

Week 2: October 12
“DDT Wars”
Affiliate Professor Charlie Wurster, Wildlife Science Group, SEFS

Week 3: October 19
“A helping hand to nature: humans and cavity-nesting birds along the urban-to-wildland gradient of the Seattle area”
Jorge Tomasevic, doctoral candidate, Wildlife Science Group, SEFS

Week 4: October 26
“Interactions between wolves and deer in a managed landscape in Washington”
Justin Dellinger, doctoral candidate, Wildlife Science Group, SEFS

Week 5: November 2
“Streaked horned lark: The role of research in listing and recovery of an endangered species”
Dr. Scott Pearson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Week 6: November 9
“Coping in a human-dominated environment: good, bad, or indifferent?”
Dr. Chris Whelan, Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Ill.

Week 7: November 16
“Coexisting with wolves and cougars in Washington”
Carol Bogezi, doctoral candidate, Wildlife Science Group, SEFS

Week 8: November 23
“Conserving seabirds: from islands to hemispheres”
Professor Peter Hodum, University of Puget Sound

Week 9: November 30
Talk TBD

Week 10: December 7
Talk TBD

Wildlife Science Seminar: Spring 2014

Starting on Monday, March 31, we kick off enough another quarter of terrific talks as part of the Wildlife Science Seminar! Professor Chris Grue of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences will be leading the course this spring, and topics range widely from killer whales to bats in the Peruvian Amazon to birds in suburban Seattle.

The Wildlife Seminar will meet on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Architecture (ARC) Hall, Room 147. Undergraduate students may register for credit under ESRM 455; graduate students under ESRM 554.

The public is invited to attend, so check out the full line-up below and mark your calendars!

Wildlife Science SeminarMarch 31
“Mercury Contamination from Gold Mining in Bats within Different Feeding Guilds in the Peruvian Amazon”
Anjali Kumar, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

April 7
“Amphibian Life History in the Arid Southwest”
Meryl Mims, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Aquatic & Fisheries Sciences

April 14
“I May Like the Suburbs After All: The Case of Cavity-Nesting Birds in the Greater Seattle Area”
Jorge Tomasevic, Ph.D. Candidate, Wildlife Science Program, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

April 21
“Reducing the Hazards Powerlines Pose to Birds”
Melvin Walters, Puget Sound Energy

April 28
“A Grizzly Answer for Obesity”
Kevin Corbit, Senior Scientist, Amgen Inc., Seattle

May 5
“Are We Loving Sea Pandas to Death? The Relationship Between Boats and Noise in Endangered Killer Whale Habitat”
Juliana Houghton, MS Candidate, School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

May 12
“Post-release Movements, Survival and Landscape-Scale Resource Selection of Fishers Reintroduced into Olympic National Park”
Jeff Lewis, Ph.D. Defense, Wildlife Science Program, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, UW; and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

May 19
“Laughter and Well-Being in Animals”
Jaak Panksepp, Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science and Professor, Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Washington State University

May 26
No seminar (Memorial Day)

June 2
“Aquatic Herbicides and Amphibians: Applying Phenology to Toxicity Testing”
Amy Yahnke, Ph.D. Defense, School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Pileated Woodpeckers in Suburban Seattle?

This Friday, October 18, the Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) in Forks, Wash., will be hosting the second presentation as part of its new monthly speaker series, “Evening Talks at ONRC.”

Jorge Tomasevic

Jorge Tomasevic

Each month, a graduate student or other regional expert will give a public talk to engage members of the Forks and surrounding communities in exciting research projects throughout the state. SEFS graduate student Laurel Peelle kicked off the speaker series on Saturday, September 21, to great success—and an enthusiastic round of questions afterward!

This next event, which will begin at the ONRC campus at 7 p.m., features Jorge Tomasevic for his talk, “A New Neighbor on the Block: Pileated Woodpeckers in Seattle’s Suburban Areas.”

Part of the Wildlife Science Group at SEFS—and currently working toward his Ph.D.—Tomasevic originally came to the United States as a Fulbright Fellow from Chile. From the cold forests of Patagonia to the arid desert of Atacama, from the native forests and struggling exotic pine plantations to the heights of an island in the Pacific Ocean or up high in the Andes, Tomasevic has participated in several research projects dealing with the ecology and conservation of forest birds and endangered species in Chile—and now in the Pacific Northwest.

“Most of us think of the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) as a mature or even old-growth forest species, right?” says Tomasevic. “That’s why we use them as indicators of forest health. However, they are also using suburban areas in the Greater Seattle region. Why is this? How are they doing? Are they successful, or it is just the remains of a past population that are using what is left of the forest not taken over by housing development?”

Come out this Friday to learn more about what this woodpecker is doing in such an unusual environment!

“Evening Talks at ONRC” is open to the public and is supported by the Rosmond Forestry Education Fund endowment. For more information about the program, contact Ellen Matheny at ematheny@uw.edu or 360.374.4556.

About the Speaker Series
In addition to bringing speakers and interesting research out to ONRC, the speaker series also provides a great opportunity for graduate students to gain experience presenting their research to the public, and to a generally non-scientific audience. For participating speakers, ONRC will cover travel expenses and provide lodging for the night, as well as a stipend of $200. The specific days of the events are flexible, and there will be openings coming up for January, March and May. If you are interested in giving a talk or know someone who would be a great fit for this series, please contact Karl Wirsing!

Photo © Ross Furbush.